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Author Topic: A few bites of the January 20 crosswords  (Read 1582 times)


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A few bites of the January 20 crosswords
« on: January 20, 2016, 04:35:27 PM »
I vant to bite your neck.....and then I vant you to see if you can deduce the connection between these answers in today's Los Angeles Times crossword by Mark McClain:

Police surveillance: STAKEOUT
Reversed counterpart: MIRRORIMAGE
Trattoria basket filler: GARLICBREAD
Railroad track piece: CROSSTIE
Daytime observatory setting: SUNSPOT

All right, I probably gave away the theme when I said I vant to bite your neck. "Folklore creature traditionally averse to the starts" of those answers is VAMPIRE. The word dates from 1732 and comes from the Serbian vampir. Merriam-Webster defines "vampire" as "the reanimated body of a dead person believed to come from the grave at night and suck the blood of persons asleep." Bram Stoker's Dracula is the most famous vampire. A history of the belief in vampires can be found on the Live Science website:

"Unimportant" is TWOBIT. In Colonial America, the most widely used currency was the Spanish dollar. A coin worth one-eighth of that dollar was called a real (pronounced ray-ahl). When you watch a movie and hear pirates talking about "pieces of eight," they're referring to the real. The Americans called the coin a "bit." The term "two-bit" came to mean "cheap or small of its kind; petty; small-time." In 1794, the United States adopted decimal-based currency but the 25¢ coin, the quarter, continues to be referred to as "two bits." In his 1964 hit King Of The Road, Roger Miller mentioned getting a "four-bit room," i.e., a hotel room costing 50¢ per night.

ERDE ("Earth, to Mahler"), NINO (which should be NIÑO), ENERO and TORERO are not used in English and therefore should not be used in American crossword puzzles, although they are---and much too frequently.

Paula Gamache put a lot of effort into creating today's New York Times crossword. The central answer is DEADEND ("Cul-de-sac") and each half of each theme answer can be preceded by DEAD. Those answers are WOODDUCK, AIRLINE, BODYWEIGHT, EYEBALL, LETTERHEAD and SEAHORSE. I can recall only three or four other crosswords where each half of the theme answers can be combined with one particular word to make a new phrase. Such puzzles obviously are not easy to come up with.

 "Let a hack do the driving" is CABIT. As a verb, "cab" means "to travel in a cab" and dates from 1835 but I have never heard the expression "cab it."

"Assail with expletives" is CUSSAT. "Curse" comes from the Old English curs and dates from the 11th century. "Cuss" is an alteration of "curse" and dates from 1768. I wonder who decided to "alter" the original word.....and for what reason? After all nobody has ever started calling a purse a "puss" and nobody has ever started calling a nurse a "nuss."


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